Jenni Lou's Reviews > Kiffe Kiffe Tomorrow

Kiffe Kiffe Tomorrow by Faïza Guène
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Dec 05, 2010

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Read in November, 2009

A fast and thoughtful read, Faïza Guène‘s Kiffe Kiffe Tomorrow is a coming-of-age story about a teenage Arab girl living in the projects near Paris. Poor and abandoned by her father, Doria is left with her mother, an illiterate and kind, polite woman. Doria feels her only wrong-doing is in being born a girl, as her father was driven away by her mother’s inability to produce a male child.

Full of rage and disillusioned by the vagaries life has shown her, Doria resents most of the people who float in and out of her world. The novel isn’t so much a story as it is a diary…of sorts. At least, that’s how it reads. There’s no dates or anything so telling as that, but essentially the book is a series of thoughts and rants. Little vignettes. Slices. Moments. And it’s written in a very casual tone, conversational. Also of note, there’s almost no dialogue. I was already half-way through the book when I realized that–the pacing is so sharp and the chapters so short–you don’t even miss dialogue because you don’t notice it’s not there. It’s superfluous, really. This book survives on its own momentum as Doria details the world around her and how it frustrates and angers her.

But that is not to paint Doria as just another disenfranchised angry youth. She’s much more than that. You can sense the hope within her words. She longs for a better life and ruminates on it often. You want it for her.

Early on, during another observation/rant, Doria insists:

What a shitty destiny. Fate is all trial and misery and you can’t do anything about it. Basically no matter what you do you’ll always get screwed over.

This is the life Doria sees for herself, but that glimmer of something better always lingers within the pages, written invisibly between every line of the novel.

But the book provides more insight than to that of a lost youth. For one, it illustrates how differences in culture affect people and their perception of others, or how quick they are to judge one another. Doria is quite well-versed in Western culture and as an Arab living in France, she is well aware of how different she is from the people who live around her. It’s an interesting read, this gentle study of a girl, that proverbial fish out of water, longing for the day when she see that greener grass on the other side.

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